Yearly Archives

2012

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

Branch Holiday Decorations

modern holiday decorations with branches

Decorating with branches are easy. You can either pick some branches from your backyard and shop at a floral shop. I adore the minimalist festive look that they bring to any room. You can leave the branches naturally, paint them, or add an icing effect. Here are four stylish ways to decorate your home with branches this holiday season.

Modern Decor

+ top photo credits: David Fenton for Sunset magazine

I adore the “Floating in thin air” effect of branch decorations over a dining table. It is simple to create this look with a fishing line. I usually prefer to hang it from a light pendant or another strong structure rather than to do a hole in my ceiling. So, look at what are your options before you install a C hook.

For a maintenance- free berry style ornament, hang red miniature balls on a bunch of branches. Put everything in a vase. It creates the illusion of

White Wonderland

white wonderland christmas decorations for a mantel
photo credits: Angus Fergusson for House and Home

You can never go wrong with a white wonderland decor. This silver and white tableau for a mantel is so beautifully done. Putting more ornaments inside two Mason jars illustrates how you can use any containers that you already have and still produce a stylish vignette.

Stylish Black

branches in a jar
photo credits: Paper Flower Girl as seen in House and Home 

Black is trendy right now. I stop counting how many interiors I haver seen lately in magazines around the world with black walls. You could use sugar in the kitchen glass jar to simulate snow. It doesn’t matter if the jar has an attached cover.

It is hard for me to pick a favorite. Do you have a favorite?

HOLIDAY decorations

A Round-Up of DIY Wall Christmas Trees

branch christmas tree

Whether it is because you don’t have the space to put a big Christmas tree or to use as a secondary tree, wall Christmas trees provide lots of possibilities to be creative with your holiday decorations. I created this round-up to highlight your options.

Lorena of Lalole likes to make craft projects out of her reclaimed wood. For her Christmas tree project, she upcycles woods that you typically found on the beach. The sticks are held together with sisal rope. Wash and let them first. The STRÅLA light chain at IKEA is similar to the snowflakes garland that she used to decorate her stick Christmas tree. Add white pompoms are your done.

mashi tape christmas tree
photo credits: Bodie and Fou

The easiest project is to draw a modern Christmas tree on your wall. Use metallic gold washi tape or glitter tape available in gold, silver evergreen, spinach and peacock. The tone on tone refines the design.

geometric paint chip chistmas tree

Designer, crafter, and maker Lisa Tilse created a geometric paint chip Christmas tree. You could reproduce her concept with gift wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper or other coloured paper. Visit her blog, The Red Thread, for the tutorial.

String Art Christmas Tree and Card Display
photo credits: My Poppet

The next project can be your holiday card display. It can also be a message center for all your holiday plans. Head to My Poppet to learn how to make Cintia’s string art Christmas tree.

christmas tree decal
photo credits: Subhuti Etsy seller

On Etsy, Subhuti was selling a Christmas tree self-adhesive vinyl decal with 8 Christmas balls. You could use it as inspiration to make your own with your kids.

Any of these are simple projects that you can make this weekend. And they will leave you plenty of time to do other things.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

USA Bookshelf by Andrei Saltykov

america bookshelf by andrei saltykov

The bookshelf in the shape of America that Russian-born architect Andrei Saltykov designed for his home in south London, UK, certainly qualifies as conversation piece. There is nothing tacky about this design. Because of the many states, his USA bookshelf is both beautiful and practical to store lots of books.

His American bookshelf makes an impression high on a wall of his open dining/living room. As a bonus, you could hold geography trivia game starting with the 600 tiny Christmas tree lights that represent the nation’s major cities. I love it!

+ photo credits: Will Pryce for Grand Designs magazine, January 2013

SPONSORED POST

The Gift of Giving with the Doves of Hope Campaign

dove of hope program

During the holiday season, we are solicited to help the least fortunate ones. Besides helping the poor, there is another group that needs our support, cancer patients and their families. These patients — and the family members who take care of them — would prefer to enjoy holiday celebrations rather than go to the hospital for treatments during the holiday. With a simple gesture, you can tell them that they are not alone in the fight against cancer. Your support gives them strength.

The Doves of Hope Campaign

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anyone, young or old, poor or rich, whether you have been good or naughty this year. Cancer patients and parents talked, in this video, about how cancer has changed their lives forever. I was touched when I heard this mom tells how it comforted her to see the dove in memory of her 22 years old son, who died of brain cancer. You know that it can happen to everyone.

doves of hope atrium display

Because you need to heal the body and mind, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation launched 10 years ago the Doves of Hope campaign. The campaign gives patients and their families tremendous hope during their journey with cancer in two ways.

First, you tell cancer patients and their families that you care by dedicating a dove. They have a simple online app for decorating your dove. Cancer patients and their families can feel the love from your dedicated doves in the atrium of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and their online Dove Gallery.

The second part is through voluntary donations made to The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Your donations are used for research, equipment, improving patient care and their comfort during their journey. Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is one of the top 5 cancer centers in the world. Therefore, funding this hospital can make a difference for everyone touched by cancer.

Here is my dove of hope!

dove of hope
sourcing: My Dove of Hope

Over 55,000 Doves of Hope have been dedicated to people touched by cancer. This year, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation hopes to have 11,000 Doves of Hope dedicated to loved ones. Dedicate yours right now at DoveofHope.ca.

Visit ThePMCF on Facebook.
Follow @thePMCF on Twitter.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation via their PR agency. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Qubis Haus: from a coffee table to a dollhouse

qubis haus used a coffee table

qubis haus from dollhouse to coffee table
Qubis Haus by Amy Whitworth £400 (approx. $650 USD as we speak) at Southbank Centre.

One thing about young kid toys is that they tend to overtake your living room. Parents often wonder where to hide them when their kids doesn’t play with them.  Amy Whitworth addresses this issue with her Qubis Haus.  She brought dual purpose furniture to a new height by designing a coffee table that transforms into a dollhouse with the simple addition of sliding panels made from wood and perspex. As a bonus, you or your kids can update the space layout by changing where the sliding panels go. Amy Whitworth won Boost 2012, a mentoring and development program organized by Southbank Centre’s design shop, with that design.

magnetic oak furniture set for qubis haus
Qubis Bedroom Set £35 by Amy Whitworth Design.

Since no dollhouse would be complete without furniture, Amy Whitworth created three furniture sets: a bedroom set, a living room set and a dining room set. Made of magnetic oak wood, you assemble the furniture using the wooden blocks in each set. Fabric accessories further decorate the rooms. For example, the dining room set contains 1 table, 4 chairs, 1 side board, 1 lamp, 3 sets of table legs, 1 plant pot, spare blocks for creating, 1 table cloth, 1 rug, and 1 pouf. I like the fact that it promotes creativity.

qubis haus used a coffee table

Qubis Haus seems pricey if you look at it from a dollhouse viewpoint. You can take comfort in the idea that it is more than a dollhouse and that it has a second life after your kids stopped playing with a dollhouse. Personally, I prefer the coffee table with one or two acrylic sheets. If it was in my living room, I would use the shelves to display way more than miniature mid-century icon furniture.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

My Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup Recipe

leek, carrot, turnip and celery soup

Every few weeks, I fill up a Le Creuset Dutch oven with fresh vegetables and make a big batch of soup. I basically redo the same soup except that I change the vegetables. I usually mix vegetables that inspire me at the store with what is in my fridge. Being French means that my soup always starts with a roughly chopped mirepoix (celery, onions and carrots). Since I will puree my vegetable soup, I don’t need to be fancy on my cutting board.

This week, my soup took shape from a big pack of leeks and 3 turnips that I bought a few days before. Here is this week recipe.

Ingredients for my Leek, Carrot, Turnip and Celery Soup:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large leeks, cut
  • 3 turnips, pealed and coarsely chopped
  • 6-7 large carrots, pealed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 crisp, leafy stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
  • optional (I put it because I had one in my fridge): 1 orange pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of origano or thym
  • 1 teaspoon of savory (my favorite herb)

Step by step instructions:

  • On low to medium heat (2 on my gas stove), heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large soup pot.
  • Add the leeks, carrots and celery to pot. Cook for 5 minutes with the cover. Stir from time to time
  • Add the turnips and orange pepper. Season the vegetables with the herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Stir. Add more olive oil. Continue to cook for 12 minutes with the cover. You want the vegetables to sweat.
  • Add the chicken stock. I want the flavour to mix together, which takes about 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Puree the soup directly from the pot with an immersion blender.
  • Enjoy now and later!

In My Freezer

I let the soup cool for 30 minutes and divide it into 12 single and double portion containers. I always store the soup in the freezer. As a mom with a young child, having a homemade soup ready to serve brings me peace of mind. I reheat it on the stove or the microwave and serve it to my hungry toddler boy while I cook dinner. Some nights, I eat a bowl of soup with him.

Feel free to experiment with my soup recipe. Possible variations would be to switch the herbs for ground ginger or ground fennel. I prefer to use fat-free chicken stock but you could use water or a vegetable stock instead. Like I said at the beginning, get inspired by what is in your pantry and your fridge.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

At the Opening Night of Ethan Allen’s Design Centre in Montreal

ming display sideboard with kim vallee at ethan allen

ethan allen cours mont royal opening night
from left to right:  Maripier Morin (TV columinist), Valérie Taillefer and Jean Airoldi (TV hosts and couple), me (Kim Vallée) Vanessa Sicotte (TV host and blogger) Mélissa Nepton (fashion designer), Julie du Page (comedian) and Mr. Farooq Kathwari (Chairman, President and CEO of Ethan Allen).

Last Thursday, I had the honor to be one of the 5 design personalities who were invited to pick their 5 top choices for the Design Centre Opening Night of the first French-speaking Ethan Allen store. If you are not familiar with the brand, you will like to know that you can tailor their furniture pieces to fit your taste and that Ethan Allen provides free interior designer services to their clients.

Now, let’s talk about my 5 picks. I rely on my own signature lifestyle: entertaining in style. For that, I selected furniture that are making a statement and that will stand the test of time.

josephine chair

My first choice was a modern take on a French classic. I absolutely felt in love with the fabric on the armless Josephine chair.

webber china cabinet in sunny yellow

Then, the bright yellow of the Webber china cabinet caught my eye. It is unusual to find a tall china cabinet that stays the same depth from the top to the floor. It is the type of china cabinet that I would definitely enjoy if it was in my own home.

Antiqued Glass Candlesticks

Candlesticks are a must have for anyone who entertains a lot.  Made of faux mercury glass, which is blown double-walled with silver placed between the layers, the Antiqued Glass Candlesticks bring the right amount of glitter and drama. Everyone who attended the opening night party returned with one of my picks. The small and the medium sized candlesticks were in our party bag.

My last two choices have a gentleman mood to reflect the trend towards more gender-neutral and masculine home decor. And they both have a distressed finish.

marapi table

We all need a versatile small side table. The sculptural shape of the Marapi table made it a winner for a reading nook, or to be used as a night table. You can bring it to your living room when you host a cocktail party. The table is heavy to move so you don’t have to worry that it will fall down if someone bumps into it while a few drink glasses sat on it. If you like the Marapi table, you can have it delivered fast since it is from the Ethan Allen Express collection.

ming display sideboard with kim vallee at ethan allen

My fifth item is the awesomely rustic Ming display sideboard. The compound miter corners are a nice touch. I like how it feels strong yet polished, especially in this vignette. It is currently showcased at the store next to a stunning L-shaped grey leather sofa. I imagine this design as the perfect living room for an urban couple or a design-savvy bachelor.

ethan allen cours mont-royal

Located at Cours Mont-Royal with an outside entry door at the corner of Metcalfe and Maisonneuve West, the 9,000 square feet store is both elegant and inspiring. If you are in Montreal, I invite you to discover what is inside the new Ethan Allen’s store.

photo credits: a mix of mine and from photographer Marc Dussault

MEDIA buzz

My Holiday Entertaining Tips for Coup de Pouce

kim vallee interview for coup de pouce decembre 2012

kim vallee interview for coup de pouce decembre 2012

I just want to share an interview that I did for the magazine Coup de Pouce. I was happy to share my entertaining tips with the journalist Annie Richer for an article about the top 10 rules to be the perfect hostess or guest this holiday season.

You can read it all in the December 2012 issue of Coup de Pouce  from page 107 to 111. Etiquette expert Cendrine Chénel also shares her tips. We talk about it from different angles.

FAMILY KIDS products

Fun and Funky Medical Alert Bracelets for Girls and Boys

medical alert jewelry for girls

medical alert jewelry for girls
sourcing: Fruit Punch Medical ID Bracelet $49.95 | Tropics Stainless Steel Medical ID Cuff $39.95 at Lauren’s Hope

I bet that you will not to fight with your kids to wear their medical alert bracelet if their bracelet looks like that. I think that it is a brilliant idea to have access to fun designs. The selection goes from silicone alert bands to stainless steel or leather bracelets or dog tags for boys. The selections get bigger for girls with the addition of fun and funky models. You won’t have to be jealous of your kids, Lauren’s Hope carries them in adult sizes.

medical id bracelet for boys

Parents of active kids who do many sport activities, you will appreciate that they are waterproof and durable. There is also a vast collection of necklace for kids with allergy and In Case of Emergency necklaces.

Medical alert jewelry is something that I now care about. My son has a stent. I need to carry a card with me to be shown to doctors and dentists that would treat him. Even if most of the times that medical information is irrelevant, you never know when it will. He is still too young to wear a bracelet or a necklace but when it will get older I would certainly revisit Lauren’s Hope to pick a bracelet that suits his style.

COOKBOOKS FOOD + DRINK

Free Printables: Holiday Recipe Cards

holiday recipe card printables with an handwritten recipe

holiday recipe card printables with an handwritten recipe

I am excited to share my first free printables of the holiday season. This year, I decided to design my own. I am starting with a printable project for foodies.

From cookie exchange parties to the office pot luck, the holiday season provides many occasions to share and exchange recipes. This is why it is a good idea to keep a fresh supply of ready-to-fill recipe cards. You will never be short on supply if you print your own. My holiday recipe cards are available in three patterns. Later this week, I will share the matching holiday gift tag printables.

capons and gremolata

I already found use for my batch. Last Saturday night, I attended a dinner at a friend’s home. She made a delicious squash and pear soup that she served in shooters with bacon chips. This was a hit! Several people asked her the soup recipe. She also made a delicious gremolata that she served with the capons. The next day, I wrote down her recipes into my recipe cards.

Instead of simply printing your menu for your holiday party, why not share all your recipes? The recipe cards can become a part of your tabletop. Tie them with a ribbon or a twine topped with a holiday ornament and display a pack on each guest plate. Your gourmet friends will appreciate this extra step.
holiday recipe card printables

Printing Considerations

If the recipe cards are for a gift, I recommend a cardboard paper because they look the best. You want a paper on which it will be easy to write. For that reason, it is better to select a matte paper.

On the other end, laminated recipe cards are easy to wipe off. Since I prefer to protect my own recipe cards with self-laminating sheets, I print the recipe cards that are for my own use on standard printing paper with a higher brillance level.

Feel free to print my holiday recipe cards. If you like them, share my link with your friends and family. The size of my recipe cards is 3×5 inches.

Click here to download my holiday recipe card printables.

If you are interested in the complete recipe, click here for the pineapple marmelade recipe.

 

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

My Holiday Décor Started with an Evergreen Bouquet

christmas bouquet

christmas bouquet

I like to integrate small holiday elements into my home décor. Here is an evergreen bouquet that I put next to my yellow green vase collection. To complement my vase collection, I put my bouquet inside a tall and narrow glass container that I cover with holiday gift wrap paper.

What is important when you design an evergreen bouquet is to play with textures. To achieve that result, I  looked outside the local conifers. I am sorry that I didn’t write down the different leaves but I know that several species are from the United States, the red berries are from Netherlands and the pine leaves are from Quebec. I bought them at Atwater farmers market. When you make your selection, stay with the same tones. Some conifers have yellow tones, others have blues.